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Women leaders in the creative industries: a baseline study

Fiona Dodd (Trends Business Research Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 22 June 2012




The under‐representation of entrepreneurial women, or women leaders, in the higher levels of organisations is an increasingly debated issue. Comments in the media regarding the lack of women in senior management positions in the creative industries have attracted much attention, both for and against. Despite opposing viewpoints there is little doubt that this is an issue that requires investigation. However, understanding the under‐representation of women in senior management, leadership and ownership roles has been problematic due to a lack of “hard data”. The purpose of this paper is to provide a quantitative understanding of the under‐representation of female leaders in the UK's creative and cultural industries. Based on a study completed by TBR for the Cultural Leadership Programme (CLP) it presents baseline data and groundbreaking analysis to understand gendered leadership in organisations.


The study for CLP established a quantitative evidence base to benchmark the number of women in leadership in the creative and cultural industries. This was possible by utilising a unique data resource, TCR, which enabled detailed analysis of gendered management structures in creative and cultural organisations. We use this evidence base to further understand gender diversity in organisational leadership positions and the characteristics of different leadership styles.


The study generated unique understanding regarding gendered leadership within the creative and cultural industries. It identified that there are 32,800 female and 82,450 male leaders in the creative and cultural industries and despite there being a comparatively high proportion of all‐female managed organisations, there are half the number of female executives per organisation compared to the UK average.

Practical implications

A trend of polarisation of all female and all male led organisations was identified over the last 25 years, which was reflected in recognition of distinct female and male leadership styles. The study proves some assumptions about the leadership approach of men and women and identifies characteristics similar to the transactional and transformational styles described in Women at the Top by Holden and McCarthy. Unless this trend is reversed, it is likely to become increasingly important for women and men to develop skills in both transactional and transformational leadership styles.


The paper provides a new examination of the balance of male and female leadership in organisations and significantly furthers debate about the under‐representation of women in leadership. It provides “hard‐data” to inform future dialogue regarding entrepreneurial women and further investigates the lack of women in leadership.



Dodd, F. (2012), "Women leaders in the creative industries: a baseline study", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 153-178.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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